Posted on Mar 16th, 2020
Around the world people are understandably concerned about the coronavirus pandemic that is currently hitting almost every country. It is a scary time for all of us, in part because there are many things that remain unknown about this virus, and the disease that it causes.
But, there are many important things we do know, and it’s important that all of us understand the facts around this disease. Staying educated about the disease enables us to understand how to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
Here are some frequently asked questions about COVID-19:
- What is COVID-19? – COVID-19 stands for coronavirus disease 2019. It is a contagious disease that affects the respiratory system. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease, first appeared in December of 2019 in a market in Wuhan, China. Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause a number of illnesses including some strains of the common cold and serious diseases like SARS and MERS.
- What are the symptoms of COVID-19? – The typical symptoms of this disease are cough, fever and difficulty breathing. In extreme cases, COVID-19 can cause severe respiratory difficulty, kidney failure and even death.
- How is COVID-19 transmitted? – COVID-19 is spread between people in tiny droplets that are released when someone coughs or sneezes. One big concern is how resilient coronaviruses typically are. While it is still unclear exactly how long this particular virus can live on surfaces, it is known that some coronaviruses can live outside the body on surfaces for as long as nine days. Some are even able to live on surfaces for almost a month.
- How dangerous is this virus? – In most cases, COVID-19 is a mild illness that many people have compared to the common cold. But, for the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions, COVID-19 can actually be quite fatal.
- What can I do to protect myself and others? – There are a number of actions health authorities are urging people to take in order to protect themselves and others against COVID-19. These include:
- Avoiding social interactions – Practice ‘social distancing’ by staying at home as much as possible, avoid having visitors and keep six feet of distance away from people if you do have to go out into public.
- Practicing good hygiene – This includes washing your hands as often as possible using soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer when you are unable to wash your hands, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and avoiding touching your face. You should also regularly clean objects in your house, including wiping clean your electronics, door knobs, handles, etc.
- What should I do if I feel sick? – If you’re feeling ill and experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is critical that you self quarantine in order to avoid passing on the illness. Stay at home and avoid contact with others. You should also call your healthcare provider. They will be able to give you instructions on how you can get care without endangering others. Don’t automatically go to your doctor, call the office first, that’s important.
- Is there a vaccine or treatment available for COVID-19? – There is currently not a vaccine to prevent this disease and no specific antiviral treatments. People who do not have the illness are encouraged to follow the recommended protocols to avoid getting sick, and if you are ill, you are encouraged to contact your medical provider for instructions on how you should take care of yourself.
If we all work together to limit the spread of COVID-19, eventually the disease will have nowhere to go, and will die out. But, we all have to do our part to “flatten the curve” and slow the rate of infection.
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